In a hint that the several month long administration debate on just how large the Afghan escalation should be isn’t quite over, officials are now saying that President Obama has rejected all four options he was given and has called for “revised” options.
The move seems in part to have stemmed from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s criticism of the existing policies and the uncomfortable number of questions he has asked about how any of the plans would eventually enable the US to leave Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the new options will “combine some of the best features of several of the options” and that an important aspect was to signal that the war “isn’t an open-ended commitment.”
But it certainly seems to be, as the only options given any consideration by the administration were all escalations of assorted sizes, and at no time did it ever appear that leaving Afghanistan, over eight years after the initial invasion, was even talked about.
President Obama already committed a 21,000 troop escalation in the war in March, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal has sought up to 80,000 additional troops on top of that. With the military’s capacity for escalation seen as quite limited at the moment, an escalation of somewhere between 30,000 and 45,000 additional troops seems to be the most popular choice among administration officials.